What is a Deck Inlay?

Posted 3 March 2021 7:49 PM by Jase DeBoer

If you’re just starting to plan a new deck build, you may hear the term “inlay” being used as you start your research. An inlay is a design made with deck boards that can be simple or complex. Typically, a fair amount of work and detail is required to properly and safely install the boards to complete the design.

Integrating an inlay into your deck is a great way to let your style and creativity shine. Just as your home interior may have unique accent pieces and colors, an inlay can add character to your outdoor space, no matter the size. We’ve outlined a few ways to integrate an inlay into your new deck, as well as aspects to consider before building.

Large Inlays to Define a Space

Much like an area rug in your kitchen, an inlay in the center of your deck can be a special way to frame the dining or seating area of your deck. Your outdoor furniture can be centered over the inlay or it can act as a focal point around which you place your furniture.

This inlay features our Voyage Decking in Costa and Sierra with our Picture Frame Board in Dark Slate

Go Big With Your Design

If you’re concerned that an inlay might look out of place in your outdoor area, try to integrate the inlay design as a theme by using it in more places than one. The pattern can cross over into areas such as your landscaping, patio pavers and more. Although you don’t have to create an extravagant space, don’t be afraid to try something unique, as the end product can deliver a big payoff.

This extravagant outdoor area created by Premier Outdoor Living utilizes a pattern that spreads far beyond the deck

Not All Decking is Created Equally

Before integrating an inlay into your deck, there are a few important items to consider. First and foremost, the type of deck board you choose will play a major role in the amount of flexibility you have with a creative design or pattern. Choose a deck board with minimal thermal movement so as the seasons change and temperatures fluctuate, your boards will not expand or contract, eliminating the possibility of mitered corners that show gaps or boards that look misaligned. 

When creating deck inlays we recommend using our Voyage Decking line, as it offers little to no thermal expansion and is a top choice among professional builders.

This complex design is made of our Voyage Decking in Costa and Khaya, built by Tara Hill Construction

Installing Your Inlay

Building an inlay may be difficult if you’re using your existing structure and joists. Canvassing underneath your decking is required for proper installation. Adequate spacing in between boards is required for proper drainage, as well as flashing tape in between the joists and deck boards. In most cases, starting from scratch is best when integrating an inlay in your new deck.

This full-deck inlay by Premier Outdoor Living took a great deal of designing, planning and executing to achieve

Pick The Perfect Colors

Finally, choosing the right color combination of decking is equally as important as the layout and style of your new deck and inlay. Use our color selector tool as a quick, easy way to mix and match all of our decking options. We recommend using our mineral-based composite decking product, Voyage. If you’re looking for additional inspiration, take a look at our style guide or order samples to be sent directly to your home.

Inlays are an effective way to integrate your personal style into your outdoor living space. They can be simple or unique, small or large, and can use two or more colors of deck boards. Installing an inlay on your own can be tricky, but not impossible. If you want to incorporate your own unique design on your new deck but are not sure where to start, reach out to a local Deckorators Certified Pro.